A forested, 20-acre parcel of land sits quiet, except for vehicles rolling by on one side and the White River flowing by on the other.
This particular patch of property is owned by the city of Enumclaw, is aimed for preservation and has long been viewed as a future place for passive, public recreation.
But now there’s an interesting twist being played out at Anderson Riverview Park. A local group has approached the city with a proposal: in exchange for the use of the home on the property, the organization is agreeing to develop a trail system and open the acreage for public access.
But there’s a lot more to the story. And, first, a bit of history.
It was late in 1989 when Inez Maxey went to Enumclaw Mayor Bob Dennison with an idea: she would deed her property along the river to the city with a couple of provisions; first, she be allowed to build a home on the land and live reside there until her death; and, second, that the acreage be kept in a natural state and forever used for recreational purposes.
Quickly put together, the deal was finalized on New Year’s Eve 1989.
Years passed, Maxey died and the home has sat vacant – and the property unused – for the past eight years. For financial reasons the city has not taken steps to improve the land or prepare the grounds for public use. Here’s what the city website has to say:
“The park was donated to the city as a wilderness park in 1989. In the future, the city plans to open the park as a picnic, passive area. Currently, the park is undeveloped and not yet open for public use.”
The land sits along Mud Mountain Road, just a bit east of the “south side” trailhead at Mount Peak. An added feature is that the parcel also jumps across the White River, with a portion on the Buckley side, in Pierce County.
Now, for the recent proposal, which was explained by City Attorney Mike Reynolds during the Jan. 11 meeting of the Enumclaw City Council.
The city has been approached by what he referred to as “a faith-based not-for-profit organization.” The group, Reynolds said, hopes to use the existing home for individuals going through substance abuse treatment. In exchange, the local organization is agreeing to create a trail system on the wooded acreage and keep the grounds open to the public.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” Reynolds said, “beautiful trees on it, a very natural environment”
He did not disclose the name of the nonprofit group during his council briefing. In a later interview, City Administrator Chris Searcy also chose to keep the organization anonymous for now.
But, Searcy and Reynolds noted, once a basic framework is negotiated, the entire package would be made public. Members of the City Council would have an opportunity to weigh in and a public hearing would give the community an opportunity for input.
Asked if others might be approached about the property, Mayor Jan Molinaro reminded that this is the only proposal that has ever come forward.
“It’s been out there for 25, 30 years,” he said, “and no one has ever approached us.”